When I see something, hear something or read something, I like to share. Some consider it gossip when you are talking about others, but in this case, it is not. You need to be careful today to make sure you fact check, but this is the truth!

Dan Rockwell, a.k.a. Leadership Freak, is one of the first people I learned about while working with my friend Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence. He has such great insight on leadership!

I want to share his latest blog with you because it is a simple, but spot on approach that follows my structure of asking questions to guide yourself when making choices or decisions.

So many times, at the end of a day, we can feel defeated as we have those negative thoughts and find the negative self-talk remarks on our way home. The day may not have gone the way we wanted. You experienced some difficult conversations, and the list can go on. Regret, anger, sadness, and all the emotions fill up your mind as you replay the scenes of the day.

Dan Rockwell has written the blog for you! Follow the steps he provides to stop the negative thoughts and shift you mind to re-think the day.


Did you know you could set up your playlist to support you unwind, rewind or windup? I have selected music playlists to encourage me with whatever situation I may be experiencing, so I can improve myself to be ready for the next part of my agenda (welcoming of the school day, difficult meetings, end of the day, workout, inspiration). I have found several songs about smile. Not only that, but I consider it is always important to smile even when you assume you have nothing to smile about. This is coming from a lady who was in a semi and car crash which did a great deal of damage to many things, especially me! I went without many teeth for two years as they worked on doing bone graphs and implants for 13 teeth. So please smile.

Establishing a foundation is the beginning of what we do in building a relationship. As educators, we take dedicated steps to ensure families have all the information they need at the beginning of the year to support their child/children. Open houses are held where families can come to “meet the teacher,” as well as the rest of our staff. A plan is presented on how communication will happen between school and home. This beginning is essential for a positive relationship to continue.


The start of the school year is full of many activities and connections. All of these shared beginnings will fade away if we do not work to continue to nurture and strengthen relationships. Sustaining relationships over time requires and thrives with frequent communications and connections. Sending newsletters, having updated websites, and adding social platforms and other sources of media communications are great, but those personal ones matter the most.


Building Relationships


How many channels do you have on your television? Do you watch all of them? Do we need all of these choices? Can you remember a time when the selections on the television were only four or five? You had to be home at a particular time to catch your show because you could not record it and watch it later. My grandson knows how to pause the TV so he can go to the restroom or get a snack. Then he will come back and resume the program. He will skip through the commercials. He just turned five years old. Television has changed over the years, and so have many other things in our lives. Is it all good?

Can you recall the names of the television shows you watched as you grew up? The tv shows changed over time, and what was considered inappropriate during one time period slowly made its way to approval.

I know I have written before about the area where I live has several famous people who grew up here. One of those is Dick VanDyke. Although I was not alive during The Dick VanDyke Show, which aired in 1961 and concluded in 1966, I enjoyed the show's re-runs.

I remember the married couple sleeping in separate beds; Rob and his wife Laura. Laura wore dresses, but she did have capri pants on at least one time, which caused a little stir. The show captured what was approved by society, but did not get into to many political issues.

Also, the 1960s-era TV series The Andy Griffin Show appeared to provide a look at a single father raising a little boy with the help of Aunt Bea. Many lessons of core values seemed to present themselves in the episodes, and a lot of parenting skills, ideas, and sometimes mistakes. I love to watch the re-runs of this show. It captures to me the peacefulness of a small town and the love for all. There are many more shows to pull from the past to look at and discover how these influenced others during this time frame. There is one episode of The Andy Griffin Show I would like to share. I often speak about bringing value to the lives of others, and this is a message I want to share in case you have not had the opportunity to see it.

As an educator, parents have trusted me with their children. I have never looked at my work as a task to be completed but as a purpose to achieve. As a mother and grandmother, I understand the purpose of instilling into the lives of my children all they need to continue to add value to life for themselves and others. Each year brings more challenges, but these are just opportunities to dig deeper into the heart and soul of our love for our corner of the world.

As Andy describes his purpose in parenting, I hope we can all hear the message he is providing and the message I have been giving. Education is not something we do to children; we do it with them. “You can’t let a young’un decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it’s hard to convince them that other things might be better in the long run.”

The importance of the home, school, and community in modeling the behaviors we want to see, the character we need, and the how of collaboration in working to make everyone feel good and safe is the best way to begin to turn things around.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This is a guide and not a promise. We are all called to make our own decisions in life. In my Two-Rule philosophy I talk about choices. The choice is always up to us to make. It is when we choose, we accept the consequences which follow.


Adults are not immune to “flashy things,” as I know many who have taken a different path and many who have worked to try to get them back on the right path. This work is not easy and is exhausting at times. There are many ways to influence others today. Can you think of all of the ways others can affect you without you realizing it?

As an educator, I worked most of my career in middle school. I often told students to avoid falling into group think and following what others are doing. Be a leader. Think for yourself. It is easy to be in a group and find yourself nodding your head in agreement with others.

How it begins

In the beginning, we dedicated efforts to ensuring families had the information needed to help their children to succeed. We did this by hosting open houses and “meet the teacher” events to introduce ourselves, create great first impressions, and start the steps forward on the path to building relationships with families. During this time, we shared information on how we will and how families could communicate with us.

Next Steps

When we have built the foundation of communication, our relationships can begin to form with our families, students, co-workers, and community. The excitement of the beginning of a new school year and the need to know can soon fade if we do not actively keep the desire to communicate alive.

The challenge is to strengthen, nurture, and sustain our relationships and build more with the new routines forming as the school continues. Relationships continue and are created with frequent communications, connections, trust, and the more contact we have with each other. Time is a precious element, and we need always to make the most of it and value our time with each other. Design the time families have with us in communication and contact to be at a high level so as not to waste it but to bring value.

Strategies and Actions

Find a rhythm that beats right for you and your school regarding communication. A communication plan will provide a pace for the year to enhance the abilities to build, form and sustain positive relationships. Take a look at these and begin to develop a communication plan to put in place. Every school and district needs a communication plan to reach everyone they serve.

In forming positive relationships with parents, be confident in your role and excited to partner with the family to support their child. The enthusiasm we show in helping to provide the best learning environment for their children/child is reassuring to anxious parents. Parents will feel more confident when they know you are in what you do daily.

At the start of every school year, expectations are always provided, along with many other things. It can be overwhelming for everyone! It is always important to remind staff, students, families, and community about the expectations of the school, district, staff, students, families, and community.

My philosophy of Two Rules is about sharing expectations. You can still follow a communication plan without implementing the Two Rules. Not everyone will follow the expectations, but it is essential to visit them frequently as a reminder to stay on the path to achieve goals successfully.

It is one of the most important keys to your communication plan. Know the names of those you are directly communicating with when you are speaking. I have been in small schools and large schools. I am not saying you have to know every single name of the children and their families. However, not all children have the same last name as their families. Learning all you can before you speak helps you escape embarrassing situations. Do your very best to learn the first names of all of your students.

When you speak directly using names, walls can come down, and individuals feel validated because you know who they are. Get to know everyone’s name. Review them as much as possible, and soon you will learn more than you did a week ago. You will keep increasing and making a difference.

Providing information to others is a way to help them have “talking points” about your classroom, school, or district. It is a great idea to have a system in place to send all of the positive news weekly to a central person who can send out press releases, provide weekly letters home from classrooms, monthly newsletters from the school, daily updates on websites, phone messages to homes about positives about their child and so many other creative ideas others can contribute that works for your plan.

Keeping everyone informed about what is taught is a critical piece. Transparency is needed for building trust. Taking time to share good news about a child with their family is so important. Do more of this daily for everyone.

Awareness of student changes in academics, behavior, personal hygiene, or any other needs or issues with families out of concern. Do not approach the situation with a conclusion but with an inquiry. “We are noticing the student name is not the same. Is this something you are seeing? Any changes at home?

We cannot jump to conclusions or poke at something traumatic. However, we need to address the issues we are seeing. Communicate consistently with the family and address the problems with the student through the social worker.

If we notice or hear something that needs attention, we must be careful not to make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Families can be complex, often facing significant challenges. Rather than starting with a conclusion, we need to tactfully inquire and allow families to inform us as they see fit.

In education, we utilize the words involvement and engagement. Involvement refers to being involved in activities. Engagement is part of not just the activities but also the decision-making process. When contacting families, parents, or guardians about attending a meeting, we need to remember how they may feel.

School is not always a positive in the memory banks of all. The mention of coming to a school and meeting with the principal, teacher, or anyone affiliated with the school can be frightening. So, be prepared to calm those we are inviting by:



Being an advocate for education is the first step in the big picture of helping all students. When you begin to see yourself as an advocate for students and those you serve, it is reflected in your voice, actions, and daily work.

Modeling this advocacy is seen by all, and families quickly pick up the support and protection for their children. This is the best way to gain their support and trust in serving their children. They will listen to what you say and welcome what you offer.


Relationships matter. We know the power of positive, influential relationships with our students. The relationships we form with families are equally important. Reaching out to the community to build strong partnerships is essential to help connect continued support for home, school, and community. This jigsaw puzzle, when placed together, fits perfectly to form the support needed for the foundation for a better tomorrow for all.

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15

I love the different aromas from the flower gardens when they are in full bloom, but these are not the only times aroma affects me. How about you?

To walk into Bath and Body works, you are hit with the wall of aroma that fills the store, and if you pass by those perfume outlets, the aromas escape through the doors to linger outside to entice you to come inside. But honestly, they are overwhelming at times.

Have you ever been so hungry that you could smell the aroma from your neighbor's backyard of the grill siring a steak? Maybe you passed a steak house with a giant wave of mouth-watering scents.

People want to experience these effects from the leaders they follow. They want to follow the aroma of leadership, which is pleasant to their senses but not overwhelming.


Five Senses

How do we provide in leadership the aroma people need to accommodate all of their senses without overwhelming them? We can begin by looking at the five senses themselves. I opened with the sense of smell. I love the fragrances we have, well, the pleasant ones, at least.

Regarding leadership, people can smell a “rotten” leader in seconds. This is a pretty harsh word, but when leaders begin by putting on a fake show and not an authentic one, people are not interested at all. If they had tomatoes and didn’t think they would get in trouble, they would throw them.

As the leader begins, it is what people see from their leaders every day that impacts them. How does the leader model what they expect? Do they say what they mean and then do it? Is this a person we can trust?

Communication is a big part of effective leadership. It is not only what you say, but it is what others hear that matters the most! How do you communicate? Are you able to reach all of those you want to share with? Do you speak, send emails, text messages, or send something on Twitter or Instagram? Making sure your message is received in the tone and manner you want it delivered is a vital part of success.

While talking to some former staff members, I realized taste matters in leadership. When we think about taste, we automatically think of food to eat. However, the taste can come in a variety of ways. The best way to the heart of your staff is in the fantastic food treats you provide at breaks, celebrations, and a just because of day. They also consider the taste of style you have in leadership. Are you military-like? Do you make it up as you go? Are you nurturing? Both the food and style are essential!

The most important one I have left for last is how you make them feel. If you pass them in the hallway without a greeting, never ask them how they are doing, do not include them in meetings or conversations, or never return their emails, how do you think they feel? A person will only work for those who appreciate them as an individual. Building relationships is an integral part of leadership.


Aroma or fragrance can awaken all of our senses. People often have a favorite because it means something to them. It can be a special memory, a reminder of someone, and can provide comfort or support. Leaders work to awaken those they lead to take giant leaps, try new things, discover, uncover and develop. Leaders encourage others to grow, share and collaborate with teams. If leaders cannot utilize all of the senses, then shortcomings will create.

Do you have a favorite scent? My husband, many years ago, bought me Christmas, Beautiful perfume by Estée Lauder; I have only worn this perfume for all of these years. I do not think I can ever smell it. I also love warm vanilla sugar and lavender—both reminders of my mother and mother-in-law.

Remember to have just the right amount of the aromas you use because too much will overwhelm your staff!

Have you ever thought about layers before? I know my brother-in-law loves to look at cakes with the multiple layers you can choose from when selecting the right one. Then I know my family is likely to tease me because I am usually wearing three layers. I am sorry, but I like wearing sleeveless tanks under my shirts. I am very conservative, and there is nothing wrong with being that way.

In Science, we study the layers of the earth; in Social Studies, we study the layers of the atmosphere, and the layers are studied in both areas. Science and Social Studies often find themselves overlapping in areas. Sometimes we may hear Social Sciences as we reference specific areas.

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”-National Council for Social Studies. The purpose of Science is to learn about the world around us. Science aims to learn how nature works by observing the natural and physical world and to understand this world through research and experimentation.


Humans have multiple layers in their development. We learn through Science about the development of humans, as well as many other animals, plants, and organisms in nature. The layers of the development system are fascinating and amazing to learn about. In addition, we discover the impact of culture, environment, and experiences through Social Studies on nature and human progress.

In my interests, it is the layers of emotions developed over time through experiences that draw my interest, which brings me to the crosswalk between Science and Social Studies, learning how to support children in learning about the role of emotions in their daily lives. One of the resources is the emotion wheel explained in this article. We have so many emotions we can experience; we need to break them down to find the core reason for the feeling driving our choices. Helping to make better choices using and understanding our emotions will help in continued growth.

In our understanding of the children, families, and communities we serve, it is not a one glove fits all approach blanketed approach to all aspects of learning. However, the foundation can be built by utilizing an approach to meet the basic needs as we build trust in building up those who have experienced traumatic events and need to begin with a foundation of trust, feeling good and safe before they can tackle anything else.


Now our focus in education has always been on children first and families; we also need to realize these past years have taken a toll on our dedicated staff as well. The one glove fits all blame game has presented itself throughout the media, and echoes of this have been chanting for quite some time, but no real solutions on ways to fix the issues facing educators today.

The two Rules approach establishes a foundation where everyone feels good and safe. It continues to build and grow to support all in the educational setting, home, and community. It is not one but all who work together to build up systems that have problems not created by one. Join in helping together in doing what is best to save the next generation by helping to provide the best solutions for them and not adding to the existing problems.


Our layers

There are many layers to humans if you research and discover the points of view others have for the insightful way to look at development over time. I have determined to keep it to three levels. As an educator, I can help to impact positively throughout the development process. Let me be clear on my core beliefs.

I do not in any way feel as if my beliefs should be transferred to another. Children do not need to be influenced by beliefs of who, what, or how they should be. Our responsibility is to provide opportunities to learn educational foundations for the success of the layer of Knowledge. Our purpose is to help inform them on the importance of keeping their bodies safe with information about health, nutrition, and physical activities to maintain the levels needed as they grow. In addition, facilitate support with families to provide resources to continue to help everyone lift up and out of any negativity. Building relationships of trust and open communications in collaboration with home, school, and community will help to wrap around the needs of our children, who need all of our support together.

Everything!

If you do not have trust in any relationship or environment, there is no chance it will last or work.

Have you ever worked in an environment where you did not trust those you worked with or worked for? If you have, you know exactly how it feels. While listening to an individual tell her story of the situation she had just been through, as tears formed in her eyes, my heart sank. No one needs to ever go through a time when they feel like this, making a choice over themselves or those they serve and deciding who they can trust.

It isn't easy in your work life when there is no trusting environment. You do not feel like you can take those risks to do extraordinary things for those you serve. Sometimes you are asked to do things you know are not right. What do you do when your boss tells you to do something you know is incorrect, does not follow legal guidelines, and is not in the best interest of those you serve? Do you do it to keep your job or not?


In the business world, education, and organizations, people work with us based on our reputations. It takes years to build up who we are, our beliefs, and our core values. Can an individual have enough influence to make others believe something untrue about you? I found an article that is not something I would typically select to read. However, it was fun to read, and the points below come from the article.

How do you know if your boss is working against you?

I have to say, I have had a boss with most of the above points. The article provides information on how to deal with these points. Excuse the language, especially in the title. It does get your attention.


Trust is an integral part of every relationship. As a boss or leader, you are gaining the trust of those you serve and it is the most crucial part of your work. Keeping that trust is what you work to do each day. When you are working in a high-stress level job or doing a job where knowing those above you and beside you will be there to support you is critical.

Everyone wants to feel good and safe while working to accomplish those two needs; trust has to be present. A friend shared the graphic below, and I think it represents leadership. What it should be and should not be.

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Ecclesiastes 1:

Have you ever thought you know too much? It seems like a crazy question to ask and to think about, but something to ponder for a moment or two. Here is why I think it is something to investigate.

As a child, many could be unaware of so many things in the world when I was growing up. However, today more and more of the protected unknowns are finding their way into the lives of everyone, from young to old.


The rise in stress, anxiety, and depression in all age groups could be connected to this knowledge. It is a thought worth thinking about. How much of the world's negativity are we welcoming into our lives freely without questions? As adults, are we fearful of shutting out those things threatening the values, beliefs, and the core of the authenticity of what our families stand for today?

Shutting out the negative noise of the world is something we can do from time to time. We are helping to establish a time to discuss appropriately as a family what is heard, seen, and the perceptions of what is happening. Provide a balance of encouragement to answer questions to understand and to help guide children with the foundation of the family.


Knowledge

Knowledge is vital to all of us. We need to be informed and understand what is happening in the world in which we live. Having a true whole picture of balance with each issue is what is needed for the depth of understanding we need. Providing our children and others with short little bits of informational headlines repeated can instill fear, uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and depression, to name a few.

Having time to sit down to talk about issues and helping others feel good and safe will relieve many of the symptoms of uncertainty placed on individuals. Knowledge can help us grow if the learning is meaningful and authentic.

What do you want to know? How will you gain the knowledge you seek? What will you do when you learn the answer? Help children feel safe to ask questions at home they want and need to have answers to. Open communication with a listening ear is essential and not a judgmental one. Help them see, hear and learn from you the questions the seek yo understand.

My blog post on October 27, 2022, began with students saying. Embedded within the post was an article with data collected from middle and high school students. The data in the paper presented the biggest barriers to student learning, according to a new report released by YouthTruth, a nonprofit that surveys K-12 students and families for school districts.

Anxiety, depression, and stress were indicated, along with students identifying they did not have enough support at school by finding enough adult support. School counselors, Social Workers, School Psychologists, and other Mental Health providers are in need, but there is a shortage. There are not enough qualified individuals to fill positions, nor do schools have the available funding to support all of the additional needs.


Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 24th, 2022, had an active shooter. A teen and an adult were killed in the shooting. With the fast-acting security team at the school, all doors being locked, following the safety drill protocols for active shooters, and the fast response of the police department, the shooter was taken down within minutes of the 911 call. All of this saved lives.

While investigating why this school is a target for violence and why the shooter with no background in violence would commit such an act, mental health is brought up. In every case of active shooters, mental health is brought up as an indication of triggers for these incidents. However, the first thing politicians, media, and others do is focus on the weapons used in the horrific violence.

I intend to bring a spotlight on targeting the core of the issue long before (years), before the few days before they have a breakdown and decide to do such an awful thing to the lives of innocent individuals. Those few minutes in the lives of all who survived will be with them for a lifetime. To all of the families who lost loved ones, the scars of the day are so deep. All of these add additional needs for mental health support for the trauma experienced from extreme events, which mental health may have been able to prevent.


I say…

In July of 2022, I wrote another blog post about safety and feeling good. These are the foundation of my Two Rule Philosophy for school. In having a Two Rule school, the purpose is to meet the needs we all value; Safety and Feeling Good. If you look at all of the rules you currently have, the basic foundation of each one is grounded in one or both of those simple Two Rules. However, they are not simple at all once we dig deeper into how we apply, model, explain, support, and teach all that goes along with them.

We will continue to see violence, anger, and issues with our youth and young adults until we address the issues at the core of the problem. Mental Health is a significant need. It is my professional opinion implementation of Two Rules in all schools will begin to develop the habits, skills, and knowledge needed to form a solid foundation for success not only in academics but in their life journey. In addition, we are advocating for funding to increase mental health support. We need to help more individuals who want to go into the mental health and education.

My final thought to share is this, as my editor is currently working on finalizing my book with me, it was important to me to have the book contain pages leaders can take to implement so it will have those. In addition, a collaboration of teams is significant for me as well, so this is included. When I say teams, I want to clarify what this means. Education is not something we do to children; it is something we do with children. Children, families, schools, and the community are part of the teams. Children will lead the conferences about what they are learning, what strengths they have, what they need help with, and how they would like us to all support them. Communication openly together. Nothing changes until we change our approaches together in partnerships. It really does take a village!

I don’t know about you, but I can have some crazy talks with myself! I can talk myself into, and out of some situations I never thought I would be in my life. Negative self-talk can be very harmful!

During our last vacation with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, my husband and brother-in-law thought it was fun to call me different names based on my response to things. “Well, hello Karen,” when I was sharp in my response. “Thank you, Pudding, when I was thoughtful in my response.” All in their interpretation of coarse! We would all laugh and have fun with all of it. However, some individuals have a very difficult time getting themselves out of the cycle of negativity. Getting to know yourself is a priority.

As an educator, I know how much we take home with us each day. Children are not little boxes we stuff things into each day. We build relationships with each one of them and are connected with families. When we see children having difficulties we do everything we can to help pull them up and sometimes it is not enough.

I have told many students to remember, “I will never give up on you.” Many of them gave up on themselves and had no one to continue to support them during challenging times. It hurts educators when a child is lost, no matter their age when life is taken.

Our message is to never give up on you! Always reach out for help when you need it. Remember, there is no need to look back through the rearview mirror, but don’t forget all those who loved you in the places you left. The windshield is big and broad with many places to go. There are many people to get to know and to share life’s journey with as you spread the wealth of knowledge you have in not giving up on being the solution daily in a world that needs you.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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